County moves ahead with dorm project

Plans for a $20 million dormitory to be used by Schenectady County Community College are moving forward.

The county Legislature voted unanimously, Tuesday, Aug. 12, to create a local development corporation to handle the development of the 105,000-square-foot dormitory, which could house 313 students as early as September 2009.

Without a local development corporation, the dormitories would not be possible, as the state does not allow community colleges to take out loan funding for dormitories.

Initially the Legislature looked at funding the project through the Industrial Development Agency, but in January, the state put a halt to IDA funding for nonprofit projects.

While several legislators expressed reservations about the project, they said it is imperative that they act on the project now.

Creating a local development corporation is the only realistic route said Vincent DiCerbo, D-Schenectady, a graduate of SCCC.

Legislator Gary Hughes, D-Schenectady, said it is essential that the cost of the dorms be in line with what a community college student can afford. He said the cost of construction is a factor in building the dorm because the developer must be able to pay back bonds while providing affordable housing to students.

"This is a well thought out project," Hughes said. "It is imperative that it move forward tonight."

Minority Leader Robert Farley, R-Glenville, said despite his reservations about the project, he would like to see the dormitory built. He said preferably the county would not have to rely on another entity for financing, but after talking about building dorms for more than 10 years, now is the time.

One legislator was wary of the county's oversight of the corporation.

Joseph Suhrada, R-Rotterdam, said, "I would be keeping one eye open on the corporation."

He said he would like to see more people on the corporation's board that are not already involved in downtown development.

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